What Does ‘Check Your Shoulder’ Mean in Soccer?

What Does ‘Check Your Shoulder’ Mean in Soccer?

When you’re watching a soccer game, you might hear the coach, players, or parent yelling “check your shoulder!” But what does that mean exactly? Basically, it means that you should quickly look over your shoulder to see what’s happening behind you.

Checking your shoulder is an intangible skill that can make a big difference in your game.

It’s all about being aware of your surroundings and knowing where your opponents and teammates are on the field. Similarly, you may hear, “make sure you scan.”

By checking your shoulder or scanning regularly, you can avoid getting caught off guard and make better decisions on the field.

In today’s article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the topic!

What is Check Your Shoulder in Soccer?

In soccer, checking your shoulder refers to the act of quickly looking over your shoulder to assess the position of your opponents, teammates, and the ball.

Checking your shoulder allows you to:

  • See the position of your teammates and opponents
  • Evaluate the location of the ball
  • Anticipate the next move
  • Make quick and accurate decisions
  • Anticipate the closest defender and see where he or she is on the field

By checking your shoulder, you can avoid losing possession of the ball, make better passes, and create more scoring opportunities for your team.

Why is Checking Your Shoulder Important in Soccer?

Here are some reasons why checking your shoulder is crucial in soccer:

  • Awareness of Opponents: Checking your shoulder allows you to see where your opponents are and what they are doing. This information is vital as it helps you anticipate their movements and adjust your positioning accordingly. By being aware of your opponents, you can avoid being caught off guard and make better decisions on the ball. Essentially, you’ll be one step ahead of them.
  • Positioning: Checking your shoulder also helps you maintain good positioning on the field. By knowing where your teammates are and where the open spaces are, you can position yourself to receive the ball or make a run. This awareness also allows you to make quick decisions when passing or shooting.
  • Safety: Checking your shoulder is also important for your safety on the field. By being aware of your surroundings, you can avoid collisions with other players and reduce the risk of injury.

How to Check Your Shoulder in Soccer

The key to scanning or looking over your shoulder is building the habit. Players who frequently scan have built up the automatic muscle. Here are a few tips on how to check your shoulder in soccer:

  • Look over your shoulder – To check your shoulder, you need to turn your head and look over your shoulder. Look for any opponents who might be coming towards you, or any teammates who might be open and ready for a pass. All it takes is a split second.
  • Keep your body balanced – When you check your shoulder, you don’t want to lose your balance and give away possession of the ball. Keep your body balanced and your feet planted firmly on the ground. As you get better, you’ll be able to run and scan or turn and scan.
  • Use your peripheral vision – While you’re checking your shoulder, use your peripheral vision to keep an eye on the ball and your opponents. This will help you to maintain your focus and awareness of the game.
  • Check your shoulder frequently – Don’t wait until you receive the ball to check your shoulder. Check your shoulder frequently, even when you don’t have the ball. This will help you to anticipate the next move and make better decisions on the field.
  • Practice, practice, practice – Checking your shoulder is a skill that takes time and practice to master. Incorporate it into your training routine, and practice it during games. With time, it will become second nature to you. Even when you are doing uncontested passing drills, check your shoulder to build out the habit.

Common Mistakes When Checking Your Shoulder in Soccer

We’ve seen it many times over, many players make mistakes that can compromise the effectiveness of this technique. Here are some of the most common mistakes we’ve seen on the field.

  • Not checking your shoulder frequently enough: Checking your shoulder should be a continuous habit during play. If you only check your shoulder occasionally, you may miss important information or opportunities to make a play.
  • Checking your shoulder too late: If you wait until you receive the ball to check your shoulder, it may be too late to make a good decision. You should be checking your shoulder before you receive the ball, so you have a clear idea of what’s going on around you.
  • Not scanning the entire field: When checking your shoulder, make sure you scan the entire field, not just the area immediately behind you. This will give you a better understanding of the positions of your teammates and opponents and help you make better decisions.
  • Being too obvious: If you turn your entire body to check your shoulder, you may give away your intentions to your opponents. Instead, try to use subtle movements, such as a quick glance over your shoulder, to stay aware of your surroundings. Also, by turning your entire body, you react and become a slower player at that moment.
  • Not reacting to what you see: Checking your shoulder is only useful if you use the information you gather to make better decisions. If you don’t react to what you see, you may miss opportunities or make avoidable mistakes.

When to Check Your Shoulder in Soccer

Honestly, you should always be checking your shoulder.

You should check your shoulder prior to receiving the ball, especially if you are in a crowded area or under pressure from the opposition.

By checking your shoulder, you can see where the opposition players are and adjust your body position accordingly. This will give you more time and space to control the ball and make a pass or take a shot.

It is also important to check your shoulder when you are about to make a run or move into space.

By doing so, you can see if there are any opposition players who might be able to intercept the ball or block your run. This will help you make more effective runs and create more scoring opportunities for your team.

In addition, you should check your shoulder when you are defending. You can see where the opposition players are and adjust your position to mark them more effectively. This will help you prevent the opposition from scoring and keep your team in control of the game.

Final Thoughts

“Check your shoulder” is a common phrase used in soccer that refers to the act of looking over one’s shoulder to assess the position of opponents and teammates on the field.

This is a subtle move but it can separate good from great players. By scanning the field, you can anticipate the defender’s movements. In turn, you can make your move knowing where they are on the field before you even receive the ball.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced player, incorporating this technique into your game can improve your overall performance and help you become a more effective player!

Beau Bridges - Soccer Novo Hey 👋 I’m Beau. A proud Dad, former coach and soccer enthusiast. I continue to love the game of soccer today the same way I did when I was 7. I created soccernovo.com to share what I know about the game as well as provide a platform so other parents can learn more about youth soccer in the U.S.

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